Russian manipulation: “Ukrainian women are being confined to bomb shelters and coerced into transforming their uteruses into baby-making machines”
Russian propaganda doesn’t always influence Ukrainians or citizens of the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom through individuals holding russian passports. Over several years, the enemy has been cultivating a network of propagandists in Western countries, who promote favourable narratives from the aggressor state’s propaganda and engage in its PSYOPS.
🚫 In early August, the creators of the American YouTube channel Redacted, boasting 2.06 million subscribers, broadcasted a story entitled “Ukrainian women, including surrogate mothers, are being confined to bomb shelters and coerced into transforming their uteruses into baby-making machines.”
✅ This, in essence, represents a classic instance of manipulative enemy propaganda.
The selection of the Redacted YouTube channel as a platform for promoting this narrative was a deliberate choice. This channel has been used by russian agents for nearly six months to wage an information war against Ukraine.
🚫 As per the Disinformation Counteraction Centre at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, former US Secretary of Defense Douglas McGregor, a recurrent figure of russian propaganda in the Western world, stated on the Redacted YouTube channel in early February this year that NATO’s survival could be jeopardized if an agreement to halt the war in Ukraine was not reached.
✔️ Of course, his statements represent another attempt at manipulation, with the aim of undermining Western support and provoking negotiations with the aggressor country.
Back in April, Scott Ritter, a former American soldier and a prominent “star” of russian propaganda in the West, made the following statement on the channel: “Most likely, Zelenskyy will die - death at the hands of Ukrainians who will rebel against him. After all, he has become the embodiment of the total collapse of Ukrainian society that is currently taking place.”
These manipulative tactics and disinformation are designed to create the impression among Ukrainians and countries supporting Ukraine that our nation is on the brink of collapse.
🚫 In May, American journalists Clayton and Natalie Morris commented on the channel’s coverage of leaked US classified documents: “We know that Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe; it steals millions of dollars from you, the American taxpayers, a fact that is now being denied. The documents show that Ukraine won’t be able to win this war, and US troops will continue to stay in Ukraine.”
✔️ This manipulation lacks any substantiated facts regarding the “embezzlement of US financial aid” and perpetuates the narrative that the US armed forces are about to be deployed to fight in Ukraine.
Clayton and Natalie Morris are the creators and hosts of the Redacted YouTube channel, established in June 2015. It was Clayton Morris who uttered the phrase “Ukrainian women, including surrogate mothers, are being held in bomb shelters,” a phrase subsequently exploited by russian propaganda.
📌 The Centre for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine has observed that Clayton Morris openly advocates a pro-russian stance. He consistently presents events in Ukraine from an anti-Ukrainian standpoint and actively propagates russian propaganda narratives. In particular, Morris repeatedly underscores, as mentioned earlier, that Ukraine is “the most corrupt country in Europe” while strongly criticizing both the Zelenskyy and Biden administrations, all without acknowledging the aggressor in the war in Ukraine.
Moreover, Morris has actively disseminated the notion that Ukraine deploys American weaponry to shell its own cities and citizens, with the intent of blaming russia. He has also highlighted instances where Ukraine allegedly kills its own prisoners of war, such as the case in Olenivka. Morris frequently refers to Azov exclusively as “Nazis” and accuses them of using women and children as human shields. There are claims that Ukraine releases its most dangerous prisoners from jails to join the fight, given its enormous losses. The training of the Ukrainian military in the UK is even referred to as “killing lessons.”
Clayton Morris is a former journalist from Fox News. His wife, Natalie Morris, also actively promotes russian propaganda narratives.
🚫 In particular, she systematically justifies russian aggression and claims that Ukraine and the US government are escalating the war. Natalie Morris also emphasizes that the United States is the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons and is now allegedly considering doing so to assist Ukraine.
Natalie also attempts to assert that the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions voted in 2014 and 2022 to become part of russia. In other words, she is legitimizing in public opinion what occurred in those territories, referring to them as referendums. Morris also called on Ukraine to “stop trying to seize the Donbas.”
In addition, the Morris couple has gained notoriety for actively ridiculing the ongoing Ukrainian counter-offensive and attempting to persuade public opinion that it will fail.
🚫 The Centre for Countering Disinformation also pointed out another American journalist from this YouTube channel, namely Dan Cohen, who relays russian propaganda in the West.
In his reports and statements on the X network (formerly Twitter), he promotes kremlin disinformation narratives, including the claim that the atrocities in Bucha were committed by Azov fighters and that the Diia app is an program allegedly aimed at transferring sovereignty to Silicon Valley.
❗️ The Centre for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine disputes Morris’s claims about “surrogate mothers in Ukraine who are kept in bomb shelters and forced to turn their uteruses into a machine for making babies,” labeling it as false.
The origin of this manipulation lies in a video produced by BioTexCom, a clinic that calls itself the largest surrogacy clinic in Ukraine.
In fact, at the very onset of the full-scale russian invasion of Ukraine, in March 2022, even representatives of this clinic acknowledged that participants in the surrogacy program had to seek refuge in bomb shelters due to continuous russian shellin.
Evacuation.City, translating a New York Times article titled ‘Parents relying on Ukraine surrogates desperately seek their newborns,’ quotes Denys Herman, a legal advisor to BioTexCom, as saying: “It’s better for babies to stay in clinics for a while than to be hastily moved somewhere under fire.”
At the onset of the full-scale war, some surrogacy agencies coordinated the evacuation of pregnant women to safer regions within the country or arranged for their relocation abroad.
According to Ekonomichni Novyny, several surrogates revealed in interviews that the additional financial support they received played a crucial role in ensuring the survival of their own families, enabling them to escape areas besieged or frequently shelled by artillery.
👉 “We haven’t lost a single child. We managed to evacuate all of our surrogate mothers from the occupied and shelled areas,” stated Ihor Pecheneha, Medical Director of BioTexCom.
The war hasn’t diminished the demand for surrogacy among couples longing to have children, notes Albert Tochylovskyi, director of BioTexCom. “They are in a hurry,” he points out, explaining that the excuse “We are at war’ doesn’t suffice.”
Before russia launched its full-scale invasion, BioTexCom was facilitating insemination for approximately 50 women each month. According to Mr. Tochylovskyi, the revenue generated by the business enabled the relocation of surrogate mothers from frontline cities and russian-occupied regions to safer locales such as Kyiv.
The russian propaganda manipulation was rooted in a news story that emerged in early August this year, when law enforcement officers disclosed the discovery of a substantial scheme involving the trafficking of babies abroad under the guise of surrogacy in Ukraine.
According to the investigation, this scheme was orchestrated by two heads of medical clinics offering reproductive medicine services in Kyiv and Kharkiv. The other ten participants included employees of these clinics, managers, administrators, and a lawyer.
Babies were sold to foreigners from countries where surrogacy is prohibited, with a price ranging from 50,000 to 70,000 euros per newborn child. Surrogate mothers were promised approximately 12,000 euros of this money but were ultimately paid much less for their “services.”
The suspects looked for egg donors in the Kharkiv Region and women who were willing to become surrogate mothers due to their vulnerable circumstances or financial difficulties.
👉 “After giving birth, women were coerced into registering their babies, providing false information about the child’s biological origin and acknowledging foreigners as the child’s father,” the report says.
Furthermore, the surrogate mothers, who were documented as the mothers of the children, submitted applications for the child’s abandonment in favour of foreigners and granted permission for the children to be taken abroad. In cases where women didn’t agree, the perpetrators resorted to threats and intimidation.
In summary, we can assert with confidence that Clayton Morris’s statement is manipulative. It doesn’t address the situation of surrogate mothers hiding in bomb shelters due to continuous russian shelling, nor does it acknowledge that the challenging social conditions resulting from russia’s war against Ukraine have led more women to consider surrogacy programs, often not solely out of personal choice, but to improve their financial situation